tv Tavis Smiley PBS September 3, 2010 12:00am-12:30am PDT
tavis: good evening from los angeles, tavis smiley. we will be discussing the senate race in florida with democratic candidate kendrick meek0 also with us is a musical legend dr. john from new orleans. he is the most visible ambassador for his town. along with his band, he is out with a new cd. join us tonight for kendrick meek and dr. john. >> all leno is his name is james and he needs extra help with his reading. >> james? >> yes. >> everyone making a difference.
you help us live better. >> nationwide supports tavis in working to improve financial literacy and removing obstacles to financial empowerment one conversation at time. >> and by contributions to your pbs station by viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] tavis: perhaps nowhere is there more attention paid in the senate race in florida. kendrick meek is the four term congressman who recently won the nomination for the senate seat. he joins us from miami. first of all, congratulations.
it is an honor to have you on the program. >> thank you. i am honored to be here. tavis: usually it is the big election where you have to come out with the big guns blazing. it must feel like you have been through the main part of the campaign because this primary was not a joke. >> you have that right. we have a billionaire who said he is willing to spend what it takes to win in the primary, that is a lot. he spent over $26 million. i am glad that we qualified by petition here in florida. i started this process before the president's swearing-in. we were in 67 counties and we were on the ballot. this paid off in the final analysis. grass-roots campaigning gave us
a 23. victory. -- 23 point victory. tavis: have is a candidate to defeat a billionaire? especially when we see people in california and new york essentially buying elections? >> well, there is hard work that produced the outcome that we have. a number of labor groups took part in the election. the democratic party overall from the chairmen of the party and also the leader is in our party from president obama to president clinton to the senior senator bill nelson. we are very excited at the fact that governor kaine and giving
comments to the media that i'm a true democrat in the race. that helped us overall and democrats were able to vote in a way that allowed us to win. >tavis: how upset were you when you appeared to be moving rather smoothly to winning the democratic nomination and out of the woodworks comes this guy with a billion dollars trying to deny you the nomination? >> i tell people that i played the david role well. i have been in the position of being underestimated before in the past. my supporters have been underestimated. we will probably have to follow the same track of both having low expectations of our ability to win. we have a ground apparatus unlike any other campaign in the state. mr. greene dropped $26 million.
you cannot purchase a primary in florida especially when you have the grass-roots effort. tavis: why do you think that your campaign has been underestimated? you are in a tight race with marco rubio, charlie crist, who is running as an independent. why has your campaign been and remains underestimated? >> in this race in florida, it started earlier. i started in january of last year, so marco rubio and charlie crist started running last summer. it was about to them in the primary and then the governor went down to the supervisory elections office and he figured out he could not win in the
republican primary and he is running as an independent. i am the only democrat in this race running against two conservative republicans. marco rubio is conservatives and so is's charlie crist. i am the only candidate who has been against the privatization of social security. when we look at these debates when we line up head-to-head with marco rubio, you will see the differences between his platform and my platform. gov. christie is more in the corner of marker rubio because his stance has been more conservative. -- governor crist is more in the corner of marco rubio. people are not comfortable with a leader cannot take a position as a candidate who they feel as a senator that he will follow
that. tavis: this sunday, all eyes will be on "meet the press," to see the most watched senate race in november when you and marco rubio will be david gregory's guests. charlie crist was invited any turned down the invitation. -- and he turned down the invitation. >> i don't know why he turned it down. he is in a difficult position politically. he will not take his opportunity to take a stand. he was unable to beat marco rubio and he found a way to get off of the ship. he is now saying that he is an independent. he has to stand up to his past
record in terms of shedding light on the future, it will be difficult for the governor. i am focused on making sure that we stand up for the middle class and that we continue to defend our environment in florida and that we get floridians back to work. i am the only one who has a real track record in dealing with the unemployed in florida, moving into green initiatives, and moving the transportation in florida. this is a big state. this runs between counties. we must get high-speed rail in the middle part of the state. when we look at the platforms of the candidate, gov. chris and marco rubio -- governor crist and marker rubio are different. tavis: you have three people
running. something is going to give. it will go a variety of ways. how do you see this going with three very well known people in the race? you have charlie crist, i had him on the show and he said that he is to support from republicans and democrat. some say that he will take from your base some democrats. >> whenever he has he will not able to keep because he cannot answer the straight questions. we care about more tax cuts for the middle-class and small businesses. he is not for that. he was nowhere to be found on the middle class -- the minimum wage. the oil drilling could affect
our economy. he said maybe we should explore oil drilling. then after the accident, he was against it. that is not leadership. we need democrats who will make a decision. charlie crist this is a vehicle to try to win. once they find out that he cannot win statistically in florida, they are going to rally around my campaign. this will be a 30-30-30 race. this will be about turnout, it will be about democratic and independent voters turning out. this will be also about people with good will in the republican party turning out. our story is better. i have worked harder than any other candidate. my story matches up to the everyday floridians story. who is a fighter in the race and who will work every day on their
behalf? the answer to that is kendrick meek. we will work hard to get there. tavis: we will be following this race. he sees this as a 30-30-30 race. this will be a tight one in florida come november. we will follow with every step of the way. this sunday we will be watching "meet the press," to much -- to watch the debate between kendrick meek and marco rubio. thank you for joining us. >> my pleasure. tavis: up next, music legend dr. john. dr. john has been a popular and influential force for over 40 years and still going strong with his band. their new project comes on the heels of a successful european
tour this summer. dr. john, good to have you. >> it is a pleasure to be here. tavis: do you still feel like you are going strong? >> hey, listen, if we are not going strong, we will go week. we cannot afford to go week. tavis: this new cd is right in the same of what your fans call feel-good music. of all the things that you could play, how did you situate yourself in this genre of music? >> you mentioned a song that i had written years ago. i let my dad pick a lot of songs -- band take a lot of songs. one of my band members who is
writing the songs with me passed away right before we began recording. two were songs that we had written anyway. feel-good music is a song that we wrote years ago. i don't even know when we wrote it. this is supposed to mean something. all of this means something to me. tavis: you really have to trust your band to give them carte blanch to put on a new record. >> if we go with the yugo, i go,
we go thing. it has to be just rolling. music is an experience. it has to come through us. it cannot just hit us, this has to be part of coming through us. this comes to the people. then they come back to us. that is what it is out. tavis: how has katrina now five years later impacted, unchanged, you tell me, your spirit, your soul? >> i look at what the corps of engineers did not do. let's face it, it was like things that have happened to show what they did not take care
of, the levees fell to pieces. they take money and don't do anything. that does not make me feel great but to this is impacting me in a way that i like to tell the truth. a lot if people in new orleans are all over the united states. they have no home to go to. this could have all been prevented. but corruption at every level -- city, state, federal, all has helped in making new orleans a disaster. that is not a great thing to say. why don't the people in the united states say that we are tired of louisiana and being the
most disappearing landmass? this is ridiculous. hundreds of acres, i don't even know the acres but it is a lot. tavis: every artist has to choose their own path. they want to do the artistry and the advocacy. do you feel comfortable mixing the two? why are we so outspoken? >> it is important to me like some kid getting out there trying to make a dollar and creating an extra line. i want to go out and tell some truth because i don't care. this is like someone does not
like it, that is their issue. if they don't want to hear the truth, if they don't want to use their eris -- ears, i'm not line. tavis: how long does it take until you get to the point of where you are out? >> i am still breathing, i am blessed. i am able to pay it -- played the music. i have a lot of great friends that encouraged me to do these kind of things. tavis: has the music changed for you? >> actually, i was talking about the truth. we recorded an album called
"babylon," and i was saying some spiritual truths then and i kind of got away form this -- from this. i was keeping the ban working, keeping this going. you lose sight but it took katrina and then the oil disaster, all of these things have an effect. there is a song or two about that. then we would cut the record. somewhere in february, i heard about the bp thing, the membrane on that thing was seen by people who were working. that was in february. this thing did not happen until later.
on and on, this is about big corporations and their lie. with all of the thousands and thousands of deserted oil that has been left all over the gulf of mexico from when the oil companies just said, we are not getting enough oil on of this. if the state of louisiana had enough money, they could be in the oil business. but true to louisiana corruption and all the rest of the corruption, louisiana gets no money from all of the oil offshore. there are the fragile wetlands that i am praying at least that could be something that our president could say, i will give
you some wetlands. but the mississippi river goes like any other river. rivers do not naturally go west, north. that is what the engineers will have to figure out how to do. tavis: what do you make of the fact that the state of louisiana has been victimized by corruption. that is to say that the people have been victimized. you have places with corruption and then you have this same place that has the wonderful gift of music and culture and art to the world. how do you square that one place can be corrupt but it has given us something so beautiful and
incorruptible through culture? >> if you look at other countries that have had major corruption, they have also given great music. i don't care which one you want to go to pick. if you go to africa, if you want to go to the dominican republic, it is like this country has always shied away from helping a country. when he became a country, we did not help. on and on. -- when haiti became the country, we did not help. the same thing as going down in this country for a long time. tavis: how does that get from the everyday people break through? >> any of the places that is cut off from money, things come up
and the people have to rely upon this. when i grew up in new orleans, everyone would have parties. they would do little things for big things but it would always be around the piano. i've heard so many bad piano players. [applause] -- [laughter] [laughter] for years i would have been a guitar player if i had not been shot in the finger. tavis: how did this happen? >> i was in jacksonville, florida. this guy was pistol whipping someone. his mother told me that if anything happens to me, i was going to be in trouble.
my hand was over the barrel, i thought it was over the handle. it went off and my finger was hanging off. they said it back on -- sewed it back on. i can play guitar and piano but it does not matter. tavis: sounds strange to think the guy who shot your finger off because the get to hear you play the piano. >> when i played the piano, i had great guys behind me. there was so many great piano players in new orleans.
we can have some enjoyment about the fact that we made music. tavis: you and your band have to be the easiest people to catch in concert. you are on the road more than anyone i know and you play all of the place all the time. you are easy to find. >> we love to play music. if i did not have music, i don't know what i would do with myself. i did to know how to do something else but i would not want to do anything but play music. tavis: if dr. john is only doing
one thing, i am glad you are playing the piano. his new project is called "tribal." if you have never seen dr. john in concert, do yourself a favor, catch him. a great band, a great artist. dr. john, clyde the have you on the program. >> thank you so much. tavis: you can catch us on the weekend and also on pbs.org. bernanke for watching and as always, keep the faith. >> for more information, visit tavis on pbs.org. tavis: join us a 40 emmy winners next time. >> all analysis name is james